I was struck recently when I walked into a WalMart store and saw a group of trees aligned in a neat little row. It wasn’t the trees themselves that grabbed me, but what the trees represented: Christmas. All of the sparkling lights wrapped around their limbs; the shelves of baroque ornaments beside them; the glowing, backyard reindeer and the blow-up Santa Claus – they all represented one religion and one religion only.


As a celebrator myself, I really haven’t questioned Christmas decorations before. They have been a permanent part of December shelves my entire life. The weighted preference for Christmas shows up essentially everywhere in my life: at school, signs for “Merry Christmas” are hung rather than “Happy Holidays”; kids are asked what they want from Santa for the daycare I volunteer at; nearly every commercialized product – movies, TV commercials, even TV networks – show Christmas bias. And with nearly everything catered to the holiday I celebrate, why should I have any reason to balk at an ordinary line of Christmas trees?

The balking started when I placed myself in the shoes of a Hanukah or Kwanza celebrator. Read More →

There are three basic ways to incorporate religion into teen programming: collaborate with religious organizations, outreach programming at a religious event or location, and programming with a religious theme.’ ‘  By the end of this post, you should feel empowered to take these best practices into your own programming, and to your coworkers.

Just like the civic groups libraries frequently collaborate with (Kiwanis, United Way, schools, etc.), religious organizations have what libraries desire most in our programming: people.’  When you collaborate with a religious organization, you’ve automatically got an audience, who you can now market to more effectively, and, if you’ve planned your program well, participation in the collaborative effort will be natural.’  By opening the library to collaborations with religious institutions, you also gain access to additional funding—either monetary in nature or in volunteer hours.’  Collaborations with religious organizations help the library expand services to a greater number of its patrons than it could have done on its own.
Read More →

Religion is commonly grouped with politics as a topic libraries avoid programming with, bypass in reference interviews, and circumlocute in collection development.’  Treating religion this way is a disservice to our teens as well as other library patrons. ‘ Religion is intrinsic to our patrons’ lives; every individual — even those who do not opt in to religious observance — has a religious life.’  Religion informs our news, culture, education, and community life.’  No library is exempt from this; every library has religious patrons.’  A Facebook graph search is a simple way to test this assertion. Read More →

How’s your team doing in March Madness? Mine just got to the Sweet Sixteen! While you’re waiting for the next time your alma mater plays, check out some of these interesting ideas and insights.

  • We all know that teens love to text. To respond to this, many schools and colleges now use text message alerts to notify students of school closures or safety issues. But what about health issues? It turns out, lots of doctors and researchers use text message interventions to tackle adolescent health concerns. In North Carolina, a free texting service offered teens the chance to anonymously ask questions about sexual health, and the teens involved in the study said that the service made them feel confident and encouraged them to follow up and learn more about their health. A similar study in 2011 offered teens weight management tips, and the weight and BMI of the study participants decreased after the intervention. College aged smokers participated in an intervention that left 40% of them staying away from smoking for a period of at least 7 days, while other participants reported less dependency on nicotine, which is also a good sign. Obviously as librarians, we cannot offer health advice. But what can you take from this study? Can school libraries use a texting service to alert students of new titles in the collection or upcoming book club meetings? Can public libraries partner with public health organizations to offer helpful services for teens concerned with a certain health or behavior issue? Can teen advisory groups pilot their own peer mentoring or counseling texting program? There are a lot of possibilities, and medical research shows that such programs can have really great results. Read More →